You’ve heard it said; People Hate Change. But it’s not true.
Look at all the things people do. We travel, we start hobbies, we renovate and redecorate. We read self-help books, go to gyms, change our look, our bodies and even our names. We switch careers, we retrain, we start businesses. We get married, we get divorced. We vote, we protest, we overthrow governments. We change just about everything, all the time.
We like change… we just don’t like having it done to us. Give us a genuine opportunity to have some authorship in what’s going on and we’ll lead the way.
Of course, there’ll always be a few who just won’t budge; people who’ll resist, undermine and even sabotage a change, no matter how important it might be. In my experience, these individuals are either a) comfy or b) scared. The Comfy will never embrace any change that threatens their cosy little gig, whereas The Scared can make the change so long as every one of their fears has been fully addressed.
But I’m beginning to think some fight change because they’ve been trained to by the very organisation that now desperately needs a more agile and fluid workforce.
See, nobody sets out to hire rigid, narrow-minded people, but years of micromanagement and a merciless tyranny of procedures and protocols foster a culture of compliance and a total surrender to The Way We Do Things Around Here. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Call any government department, service utility or even your local bank and make a request… anything will do).
It’s almost as if the organisation doesn’t trust its own people, so it invents increasingly labyrinthine systems to make sure that there’s only one way anything can happen. They hire perfectly clever people but quickly force them to behave like machines, and after a few years of working like that, it’s easy to find yourself thinking that way as well. Which is great if you need a completely reliable, consistent and failure-free performance.
But it comes with a pretty hefty price tag. For a start, you can forget about Innovation, as with everyone thinking the same way you’re going to struggle to find a fresh idea.
And good luck trying to cope in a rapidly changing century like the one we’re in right now with a workforce that’s been compelled to do the same thing, with the same people, in the same way for more than about five years, as many will have rusted into place by then.
Unless you start small. Pick some small changes they could make for themselves, just to get them back into practice. Better still, let them decide what needs fixing and give them the freedom and resources to fix it. Let them identify the changes that matter most to them, the ones that could make their lives and jobs so much better, with the minimum of time and effort.
People want change. They might just be a little out of practice. So let ‘em practice.